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Ralph Nader on Democracy Now!

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    Ralph Nader on the Ohio Recount, Bush s Cabinet Reshuffle and the White House Lowballing of U.S. Casualties in Iraq
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2005
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      Ralph Nader on the Ohio Recount, Bush's Cabinet Reshuffle and the
      White House
      "Lowballing" of U.S. Casualties in Iraq


      As the Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for
      President Bush despite calls for a review of voting irregularities,
      we speak with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader about
      the Ohio recount, the future of the Democratic Party, the
      reshuffling of Bush's cabinet, the occupation of Iraq and much more.
      [includes rush transcript]


      The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for
      President Bush on Monday, but not before a coalition of groups asked
      the state Supreme Court to review the outcome of the state's
      presidential race.

      The challengers, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, cited widespread
      allegations of voting irregularities, voter suppression and fraud in
      Ohio on Nov. 2nd and questioned whether President Bush won the key
      swing state by 119,000 votes as certified by Secretary of State
      Kenneth Blackwell last week.

      The court did not act on the request before the ballots were cast
      yesterday and the 20 GOP electors voted unanimously for Bush and
      Vice President Dick Cheney. If the court decides to hear the
      challenge, it can declare a new winner or throw out the results.

      Third party candidates, David Cobb of the Green Party and Michael
      Badnarik of the Libertarian Party are paying for recounts in each of
      Ohio's 88 counties that will begin this week.

      Blackwell spoke to reporters inside the Ohio statehouse yesterday
      about the recount.

      Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of state speaking to reporters,
      December 13, 2004.

      Independent candidate Ralph Nader was ready to initiate a recount in
      Ohio in the days following the election but could not, since only
      candidates appearing on the Ohio ballot have legal standing to do
      so. Nader was blocked from appearing on the ballot in Ohio by
      Democratic Party efforts. Nader did successfully seek a recount in
      New Hampshire in precincts where Diebold voting machines were used.

      Ralph Nader, 2004 independent presidential candidate. His new book
      is called "The Good Fight : Declare Your Independence and Close the
      Democracy Gap by Ralph Nader."


      This transcript is available free of charge, however donations help
      us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our
      TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
      Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

      AMY GOODMAN: Blackwell spoke to reporters inside the Ohio State
      House yesterday about the recount.

      KENNETH BLACKWELL: It is the generosity of Ohio law that allows them
      to request this recount; and we are in fact are going to abide by
      Ohio law and give them that recount. Now, no matter how much they
      protest, no matter how many lawsuits they file, I have the fullest
      of confidence in the integrity of our system.

      AMY GOODMAN: That's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell of Ohio,
      speaking with reporters. Independent candidate, Ralph Nader, was
      ready to initiate a recount in Ohio in the days following the
      election but couldn't, since only candidates appearing on the Ohio
      ballot have legal standing to do so. Ralph Nader was blocked from
      appearing on the ballot in Ohio by Democratic party efforts. Nader
      did successfully seek a recount in New Hampshire in precincts where
      Diebold voting machines were used, and he joins us in Washington
      studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ralph Nader.

      RALPH NADER: Good morning, Amy.

      AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. First, can you comment
      on the electoral college vote in Ohio?

      RALPH NADER: Well, there were a lot of irregularities, but most of
      them so far occurred before election day. This was a Katherine
      Harris production by Kenneth Blackwell, to depress the minority vote
      or the vote in heavily Democratic areas. One of the most notable
      ways was to reduce the number of voting machines in areas where
      there were heavy minority, pro-Democrat voters. We pointed all this
      out to Kerry-Edwards a few days after the election, chiding them for
      conceding too early and running out the back door and ignoring their
      repeated promise during the campaign that they were going to make
      sure every vote was going to be counted. So, it's good that there's
      going to be recount. How rigorous and fair it is and how upstanding
      the courts will be remain to be seen. The Ohio Supreme Court,
      notably in our case, ignored a clear U.S. Supreme Court decision in
      Pennsylvania that had exact parallels in Ohio to keep us off the
      ballot, so it's not very hopeful from the judicial point of view;
      but it's important that the coalition do what it's doing.

      AMY GOODMAN: You had a strange situation at night, election night,
      when John Edwards came out and said: "Don't worry, every vote will
      be counted, be patient," and then hours later, the same John Edwards
      coming out, this time with John Kerry, conceding the election
      without many more votes counted. There is reports that there was a
      major split between them that morning -- of the morning after. What
      about that, Ralph Nader?

      RALPH NADER: Yeah. My understanding is that John Edwards didn't want
      to concede that quickly, and there was a argument of sorts before
      the one o'clock concession on November third about raising the issue
      of every vote being counted, especially in Ohio. But the consultants
      to Kerry prevailed. I guess they didn't want him to appear to sour
      grapes or appear that he wasn't going out in a classy way.

      AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about how the media now deals with this
      issue? Very much the media, you know, expressing the spectrum
      between the Democrats and the Republicans, but when the Democrats
      agree with the Republicans, then the media doesn't pursue things
      further. They very quickly -- The New York Times had a major piece
      on the conspiracy theories around any kind of electoral fraud. Your
      comment on that.

      RALPH NADER: Yes, well, the media -- the general media will not move
      on this until the Democratic Party takes a strong role. Kerry did
      send some observers in there. The party, the D.N.C., did file along
      with the coalition in one of the legal proceedings; but the media
      has made up its mind that there's nothing there. They don't know
      what they don't know. I mean, nobody knows what's there. That's why
      there's going to be a recount. There are very sufficient, probative
      irregularities that occurred before, during the election that
      warrant a recall. Some of those are described on our website,
      votenader.org which is trying to keep up with this recount
      situation. Others are reflected in John Conyers' recent hearing on
      Capitol Hill, which was blacked out by the mass media. This is so
      far more an independent media focus.

      AMY GOODMAN: What about what happened in New Hampshire, and where
      did you get a recount?

      RALPH NADER: Well, we got a recount in a few wards in New Hampshire,
      which came out okay. New Hampshire has a Secretary of State that's
      been there for many years, very non-partisan, very professional. And
      they have a paper trail. And one of the things that we proved in New
      Hampshire as -- people who want more detail can go to our web site
      votenader.org -- is that the system worked there because there was a
      paper trail. But in Maryland and other states where there was not a
      paper trail, there's no way to make that kind of quick parallel

      AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it's possible that John Kerry won? I mean,
      with reports in Ohio, for example, one precinct having 638 voters,
      about 4,000 votes going to Bush in that case and another when they
      were counting them at the end of the day, the county commissioner
      locking down, not allowing any observers, and when they were
      criticized over the next few days, she ended up saying that
      Department of Homeland Security and F.B.I. had approached her right
      before the election and said there was a 'number ten national
      security threat in the area,' and so she said she thought she
      responded appropriately. The F.B.I. and Homeland Security then said
      they never made this call or they had never sent an agent to
      approach them.

      RALPH NADER: Well, in addition to examples like that, and there were
      52,000 votes more than there were voters in Cuyahoga County, which
      was automatically corrected, so that's not -- That's just probative
      of a climate that there's something there: A very partisan Secretary
      of State (sort of a Katherine Harris wannabe), a Republican
      legislature, a Republican governor. The stakes were enormous. You
      have 11,500 precincts, ten vote a precinct on the average. Anything
      is possible with an honest recount.

      AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about what's happening with the
      Democratic Party right now, and who will become head of it. I wanted
      to turn to Howard Dean, a clip of what he had to say as he runs to
      head up the Democratic Party.

      HOWARD DEAN: Here in Washington, it seems that every time we lose an
      election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the
      Democratic Party that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.
      I suppose you could call that a philosophy, and this is the name of
      that philosophy: If you don't beat them, then join them. I'm not
      going to make a prediction, but if we accept that philosophy this
      time around, then four years from now another Democrat will be
      standing right here, giving the same speech. We cannot win by being
      Republican-lite. We've tried it. It does not work.

      AMY GOODMAN: Howard Dean. Your response, Ralph Nader.

      RALPH NADER: Well, it's a mixed response. I mean, he's quite right
      in what he says, but he spent the last few months being the hatchet
      man trying to get us off the ballot, one of the people that the
      Democratic party assigned, and that's the way he restored his
      credentials with the established Democratic Party. That cost us over
      a million dollars and we're still in debt on this, and as you can
      see from our website, votenader.org, we're trying to offer
      memorabilia and other ways to get out of debt, because they violated
      our civil liberties, something that will be a more compelling issue
      in the coming months. The idea of the Democrats saying every vote
      should be counted, but there are certain candidates that are not
      going to be allowed on the ballot if we can hire enough corporate
      Republican law firms and harass them and file phony lawsuits. He was
      all part of that. But, just hearing what he has to say, he's right
      on. And the established Democratic Party now is getting ready again
      to gang up on Howard Dean and defeat him for the D.N.C. chair, just
      the way they ganged up on him in the primary. This is not a party in
      decay, Amy. This is a decadent party. A decaying party ends up going
      out of the way. It's replaced. A decadent party remains, loss after
      loss, after loss, for the last ten years at the local, state and
      national level, to the worst of the Republican Party. And there's no
      major insurgency, except what is attempted by Howard Dean. And my
      prediction is that he's simply not going to make it. There's going
      to be another bland, monetized mind running the D.N.C. and curtsying
      to the Democratic Leadership Council, which is really the corporate
      Democrats that have run this party into the ground over the last

      AMY GOODMAN:We're talking to independent, Ralph Nader. We're going
      to go to a break and then come back with him.


      AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Ralph Nader, joining us in Washington,
      D.C. Ralph ran for president in this election. Now the election is
      over. Just to clarify did you say that you think it is possible John
      Kerry might have won? I mean --

      RALPH NADER: In Ohio, yes.

      AMY GOODMAN: In general?

      RALPH NADER: No. I mean, nobody knows, but there's so many
      suspicious situations, so many gigantic mistakes that were made in a
      number of precincts which were corrected to warrant looking at the
      other 11,000-plus precincts. But worse than that, of course, is that
      Secretary Blackwell, who is a republican, tried to discourage
      registration forms from being accepted, when the Cleveland Plain
      Dealer recommended that people fill out a coupon in the newspaper.
      He said that wasn't thick enough paper. There were just a lot of
      things that he did before the election that he's going to get away
      with because doing these kinds of shenanigans by the Secretary of
      State is considered politics. The republicans are in control in some
      states, democrats control the others. It's not considered the
      Constitutional crime that it really is. So a lot of the damage, Amy,
      was done before election day. That's not going to be recovered with
      a recount, but there certainly is enough evidence, certainly enough
      eyewitness accounts, as Harvey Wasserman has pointed out and others
      in his daily dispatches, to warrant a recount, and that recount will
      occur, but it has got to occur under vigilance.

      AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, right now the nominees of President Bush
      and also the agenda around issues like Social Security and where the
      democrats stand.

      RALPH NADER: Well, I don't know where some of them stand. They're
      not coming back fighting except Harry Reid, the new minority leader
      for the democrats in the Senate from Nevada, very clearly took a
      stand on Social Security. That was very refreshing. But Mrs. Pelosi,
      for example, Nancy Pelosi, she says, well, it's tough that I have to
      be on the table. You don't deal that way with Social Security. There
      is no crisis in Social Security. It's absolutely solvent until 2052,
      according to the Social Security trustees, who are pretty
      conservative. The slightest changes can continue it on for the rest
      of the century. Medicare is the one with sky rocketing corporate
      health costs that is in trouble. But Wall Street and the republicans
      and the ideologues, including George W. Bush, have got their eyes on
      these private accounts. That's the first way to undermine Social
      Security, to weaken its ability to respond to the post-baby boomers,
      and to pour that money into Wall Street. The democrats just have to
      all get together in Congress and have a bright line where they say
      to the republicans, "You're not getting across this line. We're
      going to block you on this, this, and this, and we're going to have
      our own proposals for living wage; for universal health care; for
      how to get out of Iraq; for a systematic adequately budgeted
      crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse; for the conversion of
      our country into solar and renewable energyÂ…" A lot of the things
      which I tried to point out in my new book, The Good Fight, which is
      designed to say that the issue in politics today is -- the central
      issue is the concentration of corporate power. Too much corporate
      power over too many of our institutions, from elections to
      government to universities to childhood. That's where the democrats
      have to stand, and that's where they can win. Too much corporate
      power, something recognized even by BusinessWeek magazine and many
      others in the business press that have been chronicling this
      overwhelming epidemic of corporate abuse.

      AMY GOODMAN: What about Carlos Gutierrez, head of commerce, now Mike
      Leavitt moving over from E.P.A. to head Department of Health and
      Human Services, a Utah Mormon, fiercely anti-choice. It might not
      have been as relevant head the Environmental Protection Agency, but
      certainly when it comes to H.H.S.

      RALPH NADER: This is bringing crony cabinets to a new level of
      unprecedented intensity. I think Bush, of course, never admits to a
      mistake. Bush has never met with an anti-war group in the Iraq
      invasion, before, during or after. 13 of them from the National
      Council of Churches to veterans to former intelligence officials to
      peace groups all tried to meet with him before the invasion. He
      turned them down. Now he's placing all of his cronies in all of
      these cabinet positions because he doesn't want candid commentary
      and candid advice. This is a closed-mind messianic militarist, who
      can be vulnerable politically, if you had a steadfast Democratic
      Party who knew what it stood for. Because the old story, refusing to
      bend, he broke, will apply to Bush in politics, because he is
      setting himself up for being advised by sycophants. This is like a
      royal court, being advised by sycophants. But the democrats have got
      to begin to develop their public policy, otherwise they're going to
      continue to lose and lose, as they abandon whole regions in the
      country that they call red states, one of the most mischievous
      notions in political circles.

      AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you wrote an open letter to President Bush
      regarding the destruction of Fallujah mosques, and have also written
      a letter about the state of the anti-war movement in this country.
      Can you comment on both?

      RALPH NADER: Yes. I mean, first of all, Bush is deliberately low-
      balling U.S. casualties. If there are injuries in non-combat
      situations, even though it's hostile territory in Iraq, large
      numbers of diseases like sandfly disease, severe mental trauma, none
      of these are mentioned. So, the actual injured casualty toll, if you
      include diseases is more than triple the official amount. And I have
      been going after the White House for six-seven months on this;
      there's been no response. I sent it to the Kerry campaign saying
      that you should run with this. No response. The media -- White House
      media is not asking these questions. You ought to go down once in a
      while and be part of that White House media, Amy. Teach them how to
      ask some tough questions. As far as the mosques are concerned, Bush
      keeps saying he wants to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi
      people. Yes, the mosques have been used as base for resistance in
      more than a few instances, but if you win the tactic by destroying
      the mosque, and you lose the strategy, it's like winning the battle
      and losing the war. With all of his messianic statements, a lot of
      Muslims believe that this is a religious war against them. Half of
      the mosques in Fallujah, which is known as the City of Mosques, were
      destroyed or badly damaged, and now soldiers are running into major
      mosques, such as one in Baghdad, looking for suspects, and they did
      at one right after prayer time on a Friday, very recently, for which
      the U.S. military mildly apologized. But I basically asked Bush,
      what is your position here? Where are your guidelines? Where are
      your rules? So you don't further inflame the very people that you
      are trying to persuade to be on your side. But this is all part of
      Bush's so-called war on terrorism, which is you pursue it in a way
      like invading Iraq that will produce more terrorists and more
      terrorism, endangering America in ways that the republicans -- the
      democrats and John Kerry decline to point out in their insufferable
      obeisance to the wartime president.

      AMY GOODMAN: It's interesting --

      RALPH NADER: This will be elaborated further. I think the anti-war
      movement went on hibernation because of anybody-but-Bush syndrome
      for a year, and severely weakened itself. It needs to reassert

      AMY GOODMAN: In the last few days, the news headlines, they have
      said that ten U.S. Marines have died in the al Anbar province.
      That's unusual. They usually say where. Of course, Fallujah is right
      there. What do you think of this fact that we're getting less and
      less information right now?

      RALPH NADER: Well, I think the military over there has been
      interviewed by people, members of Congress and one of them came back
      and said, not one of the military officers said that the U.S. was
      winning over there. So, obviously, there's a sugar-coating going on,
      as occurred in the Vietnam War, that needs to be explored. I mean,
      the best scenario for Bush now is a puppet regime with candidates
      who are pre-cleared for running for the elections in January. They
      have to have good character, not have been involved in any
      disruptive activity, and had a certain level of education, which is
      obviously so discretional -- discretionary that it's like a pre-
      selection process for a puppet regime, with the oil industry in
      control of their basic natural resource. This is not a prescription
      for a peaceful transition. It's not a prescription for any kind of
      modest, democratic society. Of course, that's one reason why the
      Iraq insurgency is growing. There's simply not enough attention on
      Paul Bremer's 100 dictatorial decrees that he left behind, including
      extending Saddam Hussein's ban on workers forming trade unions for
      which they can be arrested and put in jail and have been under the
      occupation when they were demonstrating. There's a long tradition of
      oil industry workers in trade unions before Saddam Hussein, and now
      his decree, this dictator's decree, was extended by Paul Bremer's
      dictatorial decrees. I would urge people to look up these Bremer
      decrees, and just see what a puppet regime is going to inherit and
      will be unable to change if there is an election in January.

      AMY GOODMAN: Today Paul Bremer, George Tenet and Tommy Franks are
      all being awarded the nation's highest award, the Medal of Freedom
      by President Bush. Finally, speaking of presidents, are you going to
      run for president in 2008, Ralph Nader?

      RALPH NADER: I don't know. I do know that there has got to be more
      voices and choices. The two-party system has got to be broken up. We
      have to break out of this 220 year prison called the electoral
      college, winner take all, two-party elected dictatorship. It's just
      getting worse and they're converging more and more and surrendering
      corporate power -- surrendering our government to corporate power.
      We want a lot of alternative candidates, green, independent,
      libertarian at the local, state and national level. If you want to
      see -- Amy, if you want to see the trajectory of what I see in this
      country, because of unbridled corporate power, it's in the book, The
      Good Fight, which I urge people to read.

      AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, author
      of The Good Fight, joining us from Washington. Thank you.

      RALPH NADER: Thank you, Amy.

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